Thomas Edison—Hero or Villain?

Thomas Edison is the most prolific inventor in history. He was known as the wizard of Menlo Park. His greatest invention was not the incandescent lightbulb. He never received a patent for his greatest invention. His best invention was the Research Laboratory. He put together: investors, facilities, equipment, systems of investigation and experimentation and a talented staff. Together they developed the most significant inventions of the last two centuries.

They invented the incandescent lightbulb, the carbon microphone (which became the basis for the telephone), the phonograph, the movie camera, projector, and hundreds more. These devices completely changed how we live. Let us take a closer look.

The lightbulb made indoor lighting accessible and affordable. Before the lightbulb, indoor lighting was difficult, dirty, time consuming or expensive and a fire hazard. You could chop, dry and store wood for the fireplace. You could use candles or oil lamps. If you lived in a city, you may have gas lights. Because of limited lighting people would do more activities outside in the sunlight. The next option would be to work near a window. Daylight was a precious thing so people would get up early to take advantage of it. They would also go to bed closer to sundown. In the evenings families would tend to congregate in the same room to share the light. For entertainment, one person nearest the light might read and the others would listen. Or someone would tell a story.

The lightbulb changed all that. Now we sleep in late. Then we stay up till all hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning. Sleep deprivation is a major health concern. Families no longer spend time together; they isolate themselves in separate rooms. They no longer have shared interactive activities. Those have been replaced by parallel activities, where they sit in the same room watching the same TV, thinking that they are spending time together. The lightbulb changed our lives dramatically, but not necessarily in a good way. When it comes to technology, we tend to look at the obvious good things and we ignore the more subtle side effects.

I will discuss the next items as a group. The carbon microphone, phonograph, movie camera and projector. The microphone made large gatherings and performances possible. The modern rock concert entertains tens of thousands of people at one time.

The phonograph made possible permanent recordings of voices, music and sounds of all kinds. No longer does a person need to be there when it happens. These experiences can now be shared around the world. The recording travels rather than the people. Not only do recordings travel from one place to another, but they also travel through time. Recordings can be saved for generations. They can also be reproduced, with millions of copies being made.

What the phonograph did for sound, the movie camera did for moving images. It was not long before others developed ways to put sound and moving images together.

These marvelous inventions changed our lives. They particularly changed entertainment. Up until the time of Edison, entertainment was limited to small personal gatherings. Sometimes persons with particularly strong voices could entertain crowds of several hundred or even a few thousand. That was the exception and was limited to large urban centers. For most people entertainment was a family affair. Someone in the family would learn to play an instrument. The piano, guitar, violin, or something else. They would play for each other. Sometimes they would gather around the piano and sing together. If guests came over there would always be a little concert. Edison changed all that. Large performances replaced the small ones. Playing music and singing in the home was gradually replaced by recordings. Even the large stage performances were replaced by movies. The cost of entertainment dropped. Due to mass production recordings and movies were widely distributed and cheap. Everyone could afford to go to a movie occasionally. Now everyone could see the very best entertainers.

But what happened to the rest of the entertainers? They had to compete with recordings and movies. The “starving artist” became the norm. The small artist became small and unappreciated because now he or she was compared with the major “stars”. Thomas Edison invented stardom, or at least he launch it to a whole new level. Most people gradually stopped learning to play instruments and sing. If they did it was for Church or for a school class or choir. If people did develop their talents, they would have few opportunities to share them.

Thomas Edison changed the world. Not just on the stage but also in our homes. He changed the way we viewed entertainment, he changed the way we purchased entertainment and how we consume it. He changed the idea of who could be an entertainer, or who could entertain. Entertainment became something left to the professionals. It was not long before entertainers became celebrities. People came to worship and admired people that they did not even know.

These inventions of Thomas Edison are seldom if ever used anymore. Newer and better versions have replaced them, but the changes they created remain. Incandescent lightbulbs have been replaced by LEDs. We now download electronic recordings to our smart phones. We watch movies in our living rooms on large flat screen televisions or on an iPad.

There is one more change that took place. Mass production led to mass consumerism. It changed what was produced. The small local audience of the past had content that was tailored for them. Mass production is designed for the mass audience. They develop content for the broadest market.

The most dramatic effect has been in electronic media news. In the past people would come out to local lectures. They would attend the city council meetings or read the local newspaper to find out what was happening. Now we turn to electronic news media. They only cover national news because it has the largest market. Now we look for national leaders for solutions to local problems. Just as major media creates a one size fits all approach, the national leaders have a one size fits all approach. Cities and States have lost their character and their individuality. We are no longer allowed to be different. We are required to conform to standards set by persons who we don’t know and who don’t know us. Just like entertainment has left the home and moved to the national stage, law and regulations and local control has gradually vanished. Celebrity politicians have made their way into our homes to influence and control us.

I blame Thomas Edison. He and his team of inventors gave us the tools that made it happen. Was it intentional? No. Thomas Edison is not some type of villain. He did not have evil intent. There is no way he could have envisioned far reaching effects of his inventions of society. Once the inventions were unleashed the results were inevitable. That is how it is with technology. We see all the promise of how it will make life better. We do not consider the side effects. It is impossible to have one without the other. That is the way it is. Technology will never be held back for the public good. Its destructive power will always accompany the good and will often override it.

Was Thomas Edison a hero or a villain? To me he will always be one of my heroes for his amazing ability to invent and change the world. At the same time, he will be a bit of a villain to me for what was swept away in the wake of his inventions. Is there a way to embrace the good parts of change and prevent the negative? I do not think so. It makes me sad and a bit frightened about the future.

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Upside-Down Government

For more than four years Donald Trump dominated the news. Now the focus is beginning to shift to President Biden. The President is looked at, to address our every problem. It truly does not matter what the issue is, the people cry out and say the government should do something about it. They do not mean the government; they mean the President. We are talking about everything: student loans, the suicide rate, homelessness, education, climate change, healthcare, lies on the internet, unemployment, mental health, racism, social justice, the spread of infectious disease, pollution, plastic waste in the oceans, the cost of pharmaceuticals, e-cigarettes, local law enforcement, people crossing the border, gender equality, gender identity, pay equity, domestic violence, saving the mud sucking guppies, guns, gangs, opioids, hate speech, wetlands, clean energy, election fraud, and on and on and on.   

How is it that we have come to expect so much from the President? I blame Thomas Edison, but I will get into that in a future article.

We have forgotten history. We have forgotten the scope and intent of the Federal Government. The war for independence was fought for several reasons, but basically it was fought against an overbearing, detached, central government that was more of a liability than an asset. To put it in terms of family dynamics, the Colonies were the children of England. The children had grown up and were becoming independent. They no longer needed the parents controlling every aspect of their lives. So, as happens in these situations, the children declared independence.

That was not the end. Now there were thirteen independent colonies that had become independent states. They were not anxious to place themselves under the control of another large, detached, overbearing, centralized government. The solution was to write a constitution that would clearly layout the structure of a new government and set limits to what it can and cannot do. In a nutshell, the Federal government would handle national defense, based on the participation of State Militias. It would handle international affairs on behalf of the States, it would print a national currency, and it would regulate activities between the States. Before the States would ratify the new Constitution they added ten Amendments which have become known as the Bill of Rights. They were intended to further curtail the power of the Federal Government. The Tenth Amendment basically says, if the Constitution does not specifically state that a power belongs to the Federal Government then the government cannot assert that power. Any power not given to the Federal Government remains with the States or the People.

The Constitution was designed to give the Federal just enough power to do the things it needed to do and no more. The concept was limited government. The Federal Government was supposed to be small. The bulk of the power was to be placed in the hands of the States. If you carry that pattern further, you find that power should increase as it approaches home. Stated the other way, the family should have the greatest say in day to day living, then the City, County, State and finally the Federal Government. That is the way it was intended.

This understanding of government structure came from the Bible. In the Bible the family is the smallest level of government. Moses established a system of judges. Each group of ten families would select one man from among them to settle disputes, then Moses appointed that person. The same was done for a group of fifty families, a hundred, a thousand on up. Government was personal. You selected from people you personally know. Only what needed to move up the ladder went higher up the chain, and it was handed up to people they knew and trusted.

The only time Israel had a dominate central Government was under Solomon. After his death there was a crisis. The northern tribes objected to the high taxes. They objected to their money and resources being sent far away to enrich Jerusalem and big national projects. The result was civil war and a breakup of the nation. In Deuteronomy 17:14-17 God warned about a king like Solomon.

God knew that tightly controlled and responsive local government is best. Somehow, we have turned it all upside-down. Few of us know who our local Mayor is. We cannot name our city councilpersons. We are even less likely to know our county and state representatives or even our Congressperson. But we all know who the President is. We place expectations on him far beyond his power or ability. We personally endow him with powers which he is restricted from exercising according to the Constitution. We expect the President to deal with racism, genre identity, hate speech, communications on social media. In essence we want the President to fix all our personal and social problems. We want him to control all of the undesirable behaviors of others. We actually want him to change how people think and what they believe. We expect that it applies only to others, not to us. If we give the President the power to fix all of the things we claim to want we have given him total control. This is more than dangerous; it would be disastrous. The power you give government to control others will soon be used to control you.

It is time to turn government on its head. It is time to return it to the design of God and the design of our founding fathers. It would return some level of sanity. Stop looking to the President or the Government to solve all the problems.

Eat Grass

Before Donald Trump announced that he would run for president in 2016 there were a few self-proclaimed prophets of God who had predicted that he would become president. Some of them called him Cyrus. The message was that, in Old Testament times, God used Cyrus, the pagan Persian king, to free the Jews from captivity and allow them to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the wall, the Temple, the city and the nation.

These prophets acknowledged that Trump does not look like the perfect “Christian” President. He has been married three times and has a reputation as womanizer. He is arrogant and abrasive. The humility of Jesus is not his strong point to say the least. He is much more like a pompous, ancient Persian king, but just like Cyrus, that does not stop God from using him to make a nation great again.

The same prophets who predicted that Donald Trump would be President in 2016, returned to predict his victory in 2020. Maybe they were right. Maybe Donald Trump did win the election, but he is not President. If God wanted him to be President, then why isn’t Trump President now?

I would like to point to another Old Testament king, Nebuchadnezzar. He was the king of Babylon. In Jeremiah 27:6 God says, “And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.” God calls this incredibly arrogant, pagan king, “my servant”. This is the king the besieged Jerusalem, tore down the wall, destroyed God’s Holy Temple, killed many of the people and took others captive, and took the treasures of God’s Temple and placed them in the temples of his gods. Nebuchadnezzar did all that and God calls him, “my servant”. Why would God do that? Well, you will need to read the full story for yourself.

The point here is that God used a far from perfect king to accomplish His purposes. God blessed Nebuchadnezzar with success and fame. He became the most powerful man in the world at the time. He ruled a massive empire. Nebuchadnezzar took on the title “King of kings and Lord of lords”, a title that is later applied to Jesus.

But Nebuchadnezzar made one huge error. The account is found in Daniel 4:28-37. Nebuchadnezzar was walking around his palace saying, ‘Look at the great city and all that I have built. It all displays how great I am. I really am something!’ God responded, ‘EAT GRASS’ (my paraphrase). For the next seven years Nebuchadnezzar ate grass, until he came to his senses and praised God, the real King of kings and LORD of lords. The one who establishes kings and the one who can take them down.

I believe that President Donald Trump is much like Nebuchadnezzar. He is a less than perfect man. He can be impulsive and abrasive, but he gets things done. Trump said he would Make America Great again, and in a very short time, he did. I believe that President Trump is the servant of God, put in place to accomplish God’s will. Trump made one massive error. He paraded around the country doing rally after rally saying, ‘Look what I have done’ (sometimes he said “we”). At times he even claimed that he might go down is history as ‘the greatest President ever’. The message was clear. The servant of God, empowered by God to accomplish great things against impossible odds and opposition, was taking credit for what God had done. If just may be that God said, ‘EAT GRASS’, for the next four years until you come to your senses, humble yourself and praise God, the King of kings and LORD of lords, the one who establishes Presidents and the one who takes them down.

My prayer is that Donald Trump will give praise and worship to the Most High God. I pray that he comes to his senses and sees God for who He is and sees Donald Trump as God’s humble servant. Then God can restore Donald Trump to the Presidency and restore America to Greatness as “one nation under God.”

Democrat vs Democracy

Are Democrats the guardians of democracy? The words are so similar that one might think they are interchangeable. Recent news broadcasts show Democrat leaders making statements that they must take certain actions “to save democracy”.

I guess we should start this discussion by reviewing what a democracy is. You can look up the definition for yourself if you would like. Here I will give my understanding, I think you will agree with it. Basically, democracy is a form of self-rule, where the power lies with the people who are being governed. This is expressed by voting. The people express their wishes by casting votes and the will of the majority prevails. Often democracy is spoken of as “majority rule”.

In the United States of America, we have a democratic republic. In this case we vote to elect representatives at all levels of government who will vote on our behalf. This is done to make life easier. The average American has plenty to do without having to study and vote on every specific issue. It is much easier to elect someone who can work fulltime on studying and voting on bills.

There are several assumptions attached to the whole voting process. Some of them are stated in or inferred by our Bill of Rights. Assumptions which are central to democracy:

  1. Citizens have a right to self-rule rather than to have others rule over them.
  2. Votes are the primary tool to determine the will of the people.
  3. Majority opinion should prevail. In America we have a balancing standard that the majority should not rule in a way that disregards the concerns of the minority.
  4. That each citizen may vote for the persons who best represent their personal views.
  5. Freedom of conscience is foundational. Meaning that each individual is free to vote in accordance with his/her personal beliefs.
  6. That each person with a right to vote, can vote.
  7. That each person with a right to vote, gets one and only one vote.
  8. That any person who does not have a right to vote, may not vote.
  9. That votes are accurately and fairly, tabulated and verified.

I am not going to debate the legitimacy of the November 2020 election results. You will have to research that for yourselves and come to your own conclusion. So, I will not deal with items 8 through 11. I would like to address the rest of the items as they relate to the past and present positions of the Democrat Party.

  1. Citizens have a right to self-rule rather than to have others rule over them.
    I think that for the most part, Democrats would agree with this statement.
  2. Votes are the primary tool to determine the will of the people.
    History has shown that when the vote of the people does not produce the desired results, then the Democrat Party resorts to non-democratic methods. The most notable is to turn to the courts to overrule the will of the majority. There are many examples in history, Roe vs Wade is the premier example. Before Roe vs Wade, many States had passed laws legalizing abortion in some form or another, and others had restricted them. Democrats did not feel that such an important decision should be left up to the democratic process, so they fabricated a case to make its way to the Supreme Court. I say fabricated because the decision had no effect on the actual case. The unborn baby was a toddler by the time it made it to the Supreme Court.
    This is also shown by the outrage among Democrat leadership over the change in the makeup of the Supreme Court. They could no longer confidently look to the Court to overturn laws created through democratic means.
  3. Majority opinion should prevail. In America we have a balancing standard that the majority should not rule in a way that disregards the concerns of the minority.
    If you have followed the Democrat Party you know that their entire platform and campaigning is based on minority rights. These are not rights protected by the Constitution. No! These are a whole litany of newly created rights for newly created minorities. They are not under majority rule. They are not even on an equal level as majority rule. They are considered superior to majority rule. The laws, actions and court cases indicate that Democrats are promoting minority rule.
    I will give you a simple example we are facing in my hometown. Central Park has a manmade hill and waterfall that is in disrepair. If we are to repair the waterfall and path that leads to the top of Emerald Hill, we must abide by a handicap access law. It would result in a path that would turn Emerald Hill into Concrete Path Hill. The result is we will not allow access to anyone. If the majority will not go to extravagant levels to accommodate the “rights” of the minority then the majority will lose their rights.
  4. That each citizen may vote for the persons who best represent their personal views.
    I will address numbers 4, 5 and 6 together under number 6.
  5. Citizens are equipped with adequate reasoning abilities to select wise and responsible representatives.
  6. That representatives are equipped with adequate reasoning abilities and will vote on behalf of those who elect them.
    Twice the Democrat leadership in Congress has attempted to impeach President Trump. The stated goal was to remove him from office and guarantee that he could not run again.
    Donald Trump was elected through the democratic process. He won the majority electoral votes according to the Constitution. He was fairly elected. During the first impeachment trial, if convicted the Senate could take a series of disciplinary actions, including removing him from office. They chose to seek the highest penalty which would not only remove him from office but to ban him from ever seeking public office again.
    Once President Donald Trump was out of office the Democrats attempted a second impeachment. Quite frankly this was a ridiculous application of the law because impeachment only applies to persons in office. The goal was to undermine democracy in the name of saving democracy. The Democrats wanted to remove the possibility that Trump supporters could elect the person who best represents them. It assumes that citizens are not equipped with adequate reasoning abilities to select wise and responsible representation. To impeach President Trump would not have been a vote on behalf of the people because it would have denied nearly half (or more) of voting Americans their right to select the President of their choice in 2024. Our elected representatives should vote on our behalf in Congress but they should not vote to take away our vote. To do so is undemocratic.
  7. That a free and open exchange of ideas is necessary for citizens to vote intelligently. This concept is so foundational that it was captured in the first amendment.
    The basic idea here is that in a democracy the free exchange of ideas allows for all viewpoints and reasoning to be heard and examined by the public. Then the people will be trusted to weed through the good and the bad, the true and the false and come to their own conclusions. It is apparent that many people no longer trust the democratic process. They no longer believe that the average American should be trusted to weed out truth from fiction. There is a belief that these evaluations should no longer be left to the common Americans. Now we need “fact checkers” and the “intellectually elite” to determine for us what is true and what is false, what should be heard and what should be censored. For the first time in history Americans have been fed information through obvious filters. This is largely a problem within the Democrat Party but it is not limited to them. Republican leadership also believes that voters are persons to be manipulated and used. It seems that no one believes in democracy. No one believes that voters should decide and that good or bad, you get what you vote for, but at least it is your choice.
  8. Freedom of conscience is foundational. Meaning that each individual is free to vote in accordance with his/her personal beliefs.
    Somehow, we have forgotten that democracy rests on freedom of conscience. What that means is that every individual has a right and responsibility to elect his/her representative based on whatever reasoning he/she feels is right. I really don’t care if you are an Islamic who thinks we should have sharia law, or if you are a communist, socialist, libertarian, fundamentalist Christian who thinks we should all live according to the Bible. A black activist that thinks reparations should be paid to descendants of slaves and affirmative action should be the law, or a white supremist who believes that whites should rule, and all others should be subordinate. I will argue my point of view with you and try to persuade you. But when all is said and done I expect you to vote your conscience and I will respect and defend your right to do so. I pray that you will do the same for me. In doing so we will preserve the democracy, our most precious possession as Americans.
    From what I see and hear from Democrats is that they no longer believe that people should think for themselves. They no longer believe that dissent is a good thing that helps us to sharpen our reasoning and consider alternative viewpoint. They will only tolerate those who agree with them. Anyone who disagrees should be shamed, silenced, canceled, and destroyed.

Democrats no longer believe in the foundational elements of democracy. They say that they are fighting to defend democracy but in reality they are working to destroy it.

Globalism or Nationalism—a Biblical Perspective

Recently I was discussing the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel with my youngest son. His is the youth director at his church and has been working on a series of the stories of the Bible. We were discussing whether the story of the Tower of Babel is significant enough to spend a week studying it. The Biblical account is only nine verses long. It is normally communicated as kind of a cute little side story after the account of Noah. It is taught as the story of a group of people trying to build a tower to reach up to heaven. I have heard it said that they were trying to reach God through human means.

The account is short and there is not a lot of detail, so we naturally speculate to fill in the blanks. Here is my understanding of what the story is all about and why it is important to us today.

Genesis is the Book of Beginnings. It starts with the beginning of everything. Then focuses on the beginning of mankind. Then the beginning of sin and evil. Noah tells of the first judgement. The Tower of Babel is the beginning of nations.

The Biblical account from the New King James Version, Genesis chapter 11.

The Tower of Babel

1Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called [c]Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The primary focus here is that “the people are one and they all have one language”. Remember back at the creation of man, Adam and Eve were instructed to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. These people were not filling the earth. Instead, they were focused on not scattering. Their focus was on remaining unified and making a name for themselves. We are often taught that the tower was an attempt to reach God, and that may be the case. But in the Biblical account the tower was the focal point, a central landmark for a giant city. The tower was a monument to their greatness. It was pride in their accomplishments.

This was not an empty boast. God says, “…and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” I believe the point here is not that God feels threatened by their accomplishments. God is not intimidated. The point is one of pride in human accomplishment apart from God. I agree Bible scholar who say that this is the beginning of humanism.

God addresses the humanism through the creation of nations. There are two factors on which nations are built. The first in language, God confounds their languages. The second in geography, God scatters them across the earth.

Note that nations are not a temporary thing. God continues to address nations throughout the Bible. His next focus in Genesis is on the calling of Abram to become Abraham, the father of nations. Eventually God focuses on His chosen people, the nation of Israel.

Take a look at the messages in the Bible. Much of God’s dealings are with nations, not individuals. Even at the end of time people from every nation and language are gathered around the throne of God.

Nations are part of God’s plan. They are necessary to keep us from being filled with human pride and seeking to live independent of God.

There is a big push toward unifying the world, a move toward Globalism. We used to view a pandemic as God’s judgement, and we would repent from our wicked ways and cry out to God to save us. That is no longer the case. God is no longer in the picture. Now, we believe that if we all unite and work together we can conquer disease. If we work together we can control the climates of the world. If fact, if we unite in one global effort there will be nothing that is impossible for us. And we can accomplish it all without even acknowledging God. He is irrelevant.

The current Globalism movement is inspired and directed by Satan. It is anti-God and will lead to the Anti-Christ. It is the return of Babel.

It will not end well for those who join the Globalist movement that will attempt to unite humans in large cities under one system of governance. As happened at Babel. God will come down and judge the earth. It will become evident who is in control and who is the King of Kings and LORD of Lords.

Maranatha—come quickly Lord Jesus.

Globalism, Nationalism and The Wall

Donald Trump is no longer President of the United States and yet he remains the central figure in political debate. The goals of the new administration are stated in terms of Donald Trump. The goal is to undo what Donald Trump has done.

One of the first things that Donald Trump did as president was to begin the building of a wall along America’s southern border. The argument given is simple, it has two components. We are a nation of law-abiding citizens. Respecting and upholding our laws is central to our very existence. Having an unprotected border is a threat to our national security. An open border is an open opportunity for terrorist, drug smugglers, sex traffickers and criminals of all kinds to enter our country.

The counter argument was that Donald Trump, and his supporters are racists who view all persons entering our country from Mexico and South America as dangerous criminals and a threat to our society. This argument acknowledges that most persons crossing the border illegally are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Some are fleeing oppressive governments or cities ravaged by crime. The argument appeals to America’s heart of generosity. It stresses that we are a nation of immigrants and that nearly all of us are descendant from people who came here for the exact same reasons.

Both of these arguments are emotionally charged. Both are designed to activate their respective supporters. Both are designed to quickly circulate through the national media and through social media. That is how it works in modern politics. The problem is that although both arguments are valid, neither one deals with the core issue.

I have a great respect for the great men who founded our nation. They were well studied and articulate. Many of them were experts on the political philosophies of the time. Questions of democracy verses monarchy verses a republic were well understood, but many of them had never been tested. They understood that no colony had ever severed ties with the mother country. Natural rights and liberties only existed in political philosophical writings, they had never been fully tested on a practical level. These were the questions of the day. These were the debates among our leaders.

On the streets there were uprisings over a stamp tax which was designed to “fact check” and limit public discourse. The most widely read pamphlet was Thomas Pain’s Common Sense. It contained passionate arguments, but they were based on political philosophy. We have changed, we no longer understand the philosophy is the rightful foundation on which policies are built. We focus on the symptoms the peripheral issues, not the foundational ones.  

The debate about protected borders or open borders is not about the borders. The borders are important, but they are not the debate. They are the surface issue that must be addressed after the foundational political philosophy is established. The question at hand is, “Do we follow a political philosophy of Globalism or one of Nationalism?” At another level this is a tension between local autonomy and centralized authority. Unfortunately, our leaders and our media do not believe that the American public is equipped to handle such an intellectual debate. They may be right.

The wall is the physical expression of the debate. The nationalist says, “Let’s Make America Great Again”. The focus is on America as an independent autonomous country that works primarily for the benefit of its citizens. That is not to say that there is no consideration of global events or global interests. The point is that the purpose of a representative government is to serve the people who elected them. A protected border becomes essential for the preservation of national autonomy and national identity.

The globalist’s say that we are citizens of the world. If the world is to survive then we must work together to solve global problems. We must put personal and national interests aside and join together in the greater fight for humanity. The elimination of borders becomes essential to us forming a global identity and functioning as one people.

If we can come to agreement as to where we stand on the globalist-nationalist continuum then we may be able to address the wall, immigration, and a host of other issues.

America’s Democratic-Republic is unique. A democracy is based on majority rule, but American democracy has always attempted balance. We have sought to balance the interest of the majority with the wellbeing of individuals and minorities. We have been far from perfect in this but protecting individual rights is a cornerstone of our democracy. Caring for and defending people from oppression and treating all persons equally under the law is not just a function of government it has been an important cultural value. There is always a push-pull tension and the pendulum swings back and forth.

The same can be said about Globalism and Nationalism. It need not be a choice between one extreme or the other. We can do both and seek to keep it in some type of balance. We can work toward the best interests of America and our citizens without becoming oppressive and taking unfair advantage of other countries.

Although there is room for both Globalism and Nationalism, we need to select one as our primary philosophical stance and the other as a peripheral issue. Are we primarily Globalists or Nationalists? Once this issue is settled, we can pursue a border enforcement policy which matches our political philosophy.

I will end this essay here. There is much more to be said about the history of these two competing political philosophies. I will address my interpretation and application of Biblical principles to this issue in a future article.

Media Bias Is Not What You Think

Often the mainstream media is accused of being biased. This accusation normally comes from conservatives.  Of course bias depends somewhat on your point of view. We talk in terms of left or right. That assumes some center and a person’s, or groups views are either left or right of center. In truth we are each biased as to where the center is, or should be. We tend to see left or right in relation to our own position or the position of the people with which we surround ourselves. If most people around us have a particular viewpoint we see that as the norm but it could be way to one side or the other.

So is the media biased? One report looked at the political affiliations of the journalist. The results show that Democrat journalists consistently outnumber Republicans.

From the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/05/06/just-7-percent-of-journalists-are-republicans-thats-far-less-than-even-a-decade-ago/

political-affiliation
Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

That would lead us to conclude that there is a significant Democrat bias among reporters. Other research tends to support this conclusion also. If you watch the news attentively you can see the bias. Some is very obvious others are much more subtle but the bias is always there.  By the way, don’t be deceived about the designation of “Independent”. People, especially reporters, like to think of themselves as neutral and objective, but just because a person calls himself or herself independent does not mean they are neutral or objective.  When interviewed about their particular views and voting habits they nearly always fall squarely into a Republican or Democrat stance.

When it comes to politics and social issues we are taught to think in terms of Republican or Democrat, left or right, Conservative or Liberal. The media is thinking about something totally different. There is something that matters much more than who becomes President. What matters most is ratings, viewership and advertizing sales.

The media has many biases but the most important is creating a story that will make people tune in.  Notice how this has played out in this election cycle so far.  There were a dozen or so candidates for the Republican nomination but which one could they make out to be the most “controversial”, who would give them the greatest number of provocative sound bites. The obvious choice was Donald Trump and Trump knew it. If he could keep feeding them material then he would get free coverage on the news. From my estimation Trump got three times as much media coverage as all the other candidates combined.

Was any of it about real issues? Not really, it was about off handed remarks blown out of proportion to create some new “controversy”.  It was never about substance.

As we got to the Republican convention, Trump clearly had the nominations, but the media created a hype that somehow Cruz would try to pull a coop. Of course it made for a good story, and people tuned in to see what would happen but it was all media hype. Then there was the big “controversy” as to whether or not Cruz would endorse Trump.

If the primary media bias was about liberal of conservative polices then that would have been the content of the reporting, but it never is. It is always about superficial hype.

The same was true of the Democratic campaign. The Democratic leadership always wanted Hillary. It was always assumed that she would win the nomination. They have been working toward this sense Bill was President. Bernie Sanders was too extreme and never had a chance, but that does not make for a good news story. So Bernie became a big news story. They reported on his dedicated and energized youthful followers. They created a “real” threat to Hillary’s candidacy. Even at the Democratic Convention the media created a story. ‘Will Bernie endorse Hillary?’ ‘Will his supporters back her?’ The drama continues on the convention floor. Viewers stay tuned to see what will happen and the advertizing dollars keep rolling in.

Everyone thinks that in a presidential election either the Republicans or the Democrats win. The real winner is the media. Each party raised hundreds of millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter who wins the media gets it all. The more “controversy” they can create the more viewers they have; the more viewers the higher the cost for advertizing.  The media loves “Raciest” Trump and “Crooked” Hillary. Keep the scandals rolling in and the money will roll in right behind it.

Trump will say he hates the media and how biased they are. The media loves it and Trump loves the coverage it gets him. Trump challenges the media to show the record breaking turnout to his rallies and the pathetically poor turnout to the Hillary rallies. The media never shows the crowds. Trump says it is because they are biased toward Hillary. That may be true but mostly they are biased toward creating the appearance of a close race. As long as the race is close the viewing audience will stay energized.  If it looks like slam-dunk for Trump then the race is over and no one will watch.

For sure the media is bias. For sure they lean to the left. But the biggest bias is not what you think. They are biased toward themselves. They are biased towards controversy and the all mighty dollar. Who will win the race? The media will.

Touring Oppression, Obsession and Greed

Americans like to tour other countries. Sometimes we say that they have history all around them, but in America it is hard to find anything that is more than a few hundred years old. So we travel the rest of the world looking for really old stuff, stuff with real history. Of course the things we find are the great structures and works of architecture that have withstood the test of time: the pyramids, palaces, cathedrals, temples, fortresses, and castles.

In general, we don’t have those things in America. We think it is because we are not that old. The truth is age has little to do with it. It is about the structure of society and the concentration of power and wealth. Egypt does not have pyramids because it is old. Egypt has pyramids because it had a social structure that placed all power and wealth in the hands of a very few people. The rest of the country was enslaved and worked to accomplish the wishes of those at the top. It is estimated that tens of thousands of slaves worked to build the pyramids.

No one travels to Russia to see the great accomplishments of the communist system. No, they go to see the churches and palaces built during the time of the czars.

In Rome we see the great temples, forum, coliseum, aqueducts and fountains built by the thousands of slaves captured during the various military conquests. It is estimated that at one time there were ten slaves to every free man in Rome.

In France we see the ridiculously lavish, palaces and art collections of the Kings who taxed the peasants to near starvation.

At the Vatican you can see some great cathedrals and works of art paid for through abusive practices of paying indulgences.

As you travel from place to place the names change but the story is much the same. Wonderful architectural structures and beautiful collections of fine art all acquired because a few people had the power, wealth and control of public resources to lavish on themselves and their own interests. We don’t have those things in America not because we are not that old. We don’t have them because we have placed our focus on the freedom of opportunity for the common man. That is not to say that we don’t have some very wealthy people. We do, and they live some very lavish lifestyles. You can watch “lifestyles of the rich and famous” and see all kinds of wealthy Americans, but there is something radically different. We feel that these people earned their money, or at least we willingly bought their product of service. Somehow we don’t feel like they obtained their wealth through the oppression of others.

So there you have it. We admire these great structures, and art collections of history. We marvel at the great empires of the past that brought them into being. Then we create laws and social structures to guarantee that concentrations of wealth and power like that will never happen again.

It really is hypocritical tourism. We praise the accomplishments of oppressive empires of the past and condemn them in the present.

What kind of monuments will we build in our present day that will become the tourist attractions of the future? Will they be monuments of greed and oppression? Will they be monuments of individual expression, like the Watts Towers, Scotty’s Castle, or Salvation Mountain, that were built in the past, but new building codes will guarantee that type of individual expression never happens again. Maybe we will simply continue to admire the monuments of ancient history because we can no longer build them in the present.

Chipped Paint and Broken Plaster

I am sitting in a solarium café in a hotel in Italy. The room is filled with old patio tables with simple formed steel tops and elaborate, decorative, cast metal bases. The chairs are also old and mismatched. It seems that they are simply collected over time from just about anywhere. Some are indirectly carved, others are delicately curved steel bars, bent to create curly-ques, and heart shaped backs. Like the head board of a fine brass bed. There are wicker benches with woven seats and backs. Some chairs are formed of bamboo or some type of reed. There are also simple folding chairs made from steel flat bar and wooden slats. Everything has multiple coats of paint. The last layer is white. All the paint is chipped to expose the earlier colors of the bare steel. The rest of the room is decorated with various pillows, lights, baskets, fresh fruit and plants. There are wire hearts covered in fabric hanging around the room. Some are right side up, but most are cocked at some odd angle of even upside down. It is exactly what you would see in some “Country Cottage” magazine.

It is all very romantic and appealing. I just can’t figure out why.

Two days ago I went to visit our office in Assago. It was a very modern building, the type that would e featured in “Architectural Digest”. My guess is that it was when it was first built. It is what I call an architect’s playground. The architect went wild with every new and different idea he could come up with. Often these buildings are not about beauty of even functionality; they are about being different, cutting edge, breaking the rules and being modern. The ironic thing is that in 20 years these buildings will look old and dated.

The truly old architecture is called timeless and classic. As I walk the brick streets of Tortona, Italy, I am in awe of the old brick buildings with heavy wooden doors opening to brick and tile paved courtyards—the shuttered windows and balconies with hanging flower boxes. Everywhere there is chipped plaster. Occasionally I will run across a grand old building that is abandoned and decaying. The plaster has fallen away exposing large areas of ancient brick. The red tile roof has collapsed in places letting light filter through the broken windows from the inside. Great chunks of the wall have collapsed. Somehow there is a beauty in all of this decay. It is the subject of great photographs and pencil sketches.

Once again I ask myself, “What is it that makes old decaying buildings so appealing?”

What is funny is that I can remember as a child I didn’t like old looking things. Chipped and broken, meant chipped and broken. It seemed dirty. I expected bugs to come crawling out. There was nothing beautiful or romantic about it. I liked the clean, slick modern styles.

I guess your tastes change as you get older. You appreciate what happens with the passage of time. You understand that many of those chips and broken pieces have a story—the story of people’s lives: the events that formed them, the attempts to repair them, the new plaster and the new coat of paint. Many things have no specific story, it is just the wear of daily life that weathers and shapes us and leaves small cracks, chips and smudges. The buildings, the furniture, the collection of odds and ends, the tilted hearts—they all have a story. I will never know these stories they are lost to time, as someday mine will be, but there is something beautiful and romantic about sitting in a solarium in Italy, sipping on a cappuccino, surrounded by a million silent stories told by chipped paint and broken plaster.

Familiar Faces in Foreign Places

America is very unique in that we truly are a nation of immigrants. People have come from every nation on earth, and they have become Americans. This amazing blend, this bringing together different people to form a nation is truly American. This inviting and accepting of people is one of the factors that has made America great.

People come from all over. The first generation to arrive holds strongly to their roots. They are a generation in transition. They see themselves as coming from somewhere else. The next generation sees themselves differently. They are Americans but they have a strong heritage from another country; often a country that they will never know first-hand. It is only through their parents that they maintain the connection. By the third generation they are undeniable Americans. They still may take some pride in being a hyphenated American; but they are Americans through and through, just like every other hyphenated American.

I was born and raised in America and I am a blend of a few different ethnicities. I have never been able to think of myself as anything other than American. I’m not even hyphenated. As such, I look at other Americans as just simply Americans and have not given a lot of thought to where their families come from. That has changed for me now that I have done some international traveling during the last month.

Before I left for Italy a friend, Nadine, asked what town I was going to. I said “Tortona” and she excitedly said, “My family is from that area.” A strange thing happened. As I met coworkers in the Tortona office, I began to see familiar faces. There was a girl in the office that had some facial features, gestures and way of communicating that reminded me of Cheryl, Nadine’s daughter. A Guy in the office named Simone, looked like Nadine’s son, Dan. The way he would look at me reminded me of Dan. He even had Dan’s grin. In my mind I even used it to try and help me remember names. I would say to myself, ‘Oh, yah, Simone—he is the purchasing guy that looks like Dan Deal.’

There was another thin, energetic, young man named Pietro. He reminded me of a thin, energetic, third generation Italian-American guy I worked with in California, named Nick Carbone. This whole experience of seeing familiar faces in foreign places has been interesting and kind of fun. It has made me aware of the ethnicity of my friends at home, something I had never paid much attention to. Mostly I think it is a way of avoiding being homesick. These people are strangers to me, but in some way there is comfort in seeing the American counterpart in their eyes, and their gestures.

The strangest one happened this morning at breakfast. I am in Mumbai, India right now. I sat down for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. My nephew James came up to take my order. Okay it wasn’t James, it was some Indian waiter that looked like my Mexican-American nephew, James. I smiled as he asked me something that I really didn’t understand. Then he gestured to the side with his head. I went. ‘Oh my gosh! It’s James. I never noticed before but he does that same gesture with his head.

Again it was fun and a bit comforting. I guess I am home sick.